Recipe from: A Spasso per L’Italia (By Ai Yonezawa)
While fava beans got a bad rep as the choice of side dish for a snobbish cannibal ever since Dr. Lector so eloquently described to agent Starling how he dealt with a census taker who apparently had asked one too many questions, I have a much fonder (and socially acceptable) memory of eating these beans at family dinner table – Fumbling hot beans freshly cooked off the pot, managing to break a black seam and pop it out of the skin, then simply dipping in a bit of salt to eat it one by one… Yum.
But perhaps the joy of eating them is even more amplified by the fact that these beans with perfect green hue would also mark the arrival of warm seasons. Whenever I come across fresh pods of fava beans piled up in the produce section of a local grocery store, the scene evokes such a happy pleasant feeling that it leaves me excited and giggly as well as extremely prone to impulse purchase.
This year I was determined to make this fava bean dish my sister wouldn’t stop talking about for months without actually giving me the recipe. My persistence paid off, however – I finally got my hands on the secret formula to try out myself. And now I am completely hooked.
It is a surprisingly simple way of preparing the beans. You basically need to throw everything in a heavy pot and cook until beans are tender. And that’s really it. You don’t even peel the beans after taking them out of the pod. Yet there is something about the combination of ingredients that is so well balanced and perfect that it makes this rustic dish absolutely delicious and addictive. I never had the fava beans with skin on before and was rather skeptical initially, but I would even go as far as to say that I may like them better this way. The skin provides chewy texture and absorbs all the flavors, making the entire dish substantial and satisfying without being heavy.
Writing this post already makes me want to get in a car and drive to the market to grab yet another batch of fresh fava beans. At least it is one of the less damaging impulse purchases with $1.00 for 3 lb. Now, only if they come with heels – Then my life would be complete. I think.
RECIPE (2~3 Servings)
- 1 lb fresh pods of fava beans
- 1 clove garlic
- 1.5 tablespoon chopped pancetta
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 1~2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pinch kosher salt or sea salt
- Handful of fennel fronds (optional)
- Take fava beans out of their pods.
- Peel garlic and smash it with the side of a knife.
- Add all the ingredients into a heavy pan. Blend them well, cover and cook over medium heat for about 40 minutes.
- Test one of the beans. If the skin is tender to the bite, remove the pot from the heat.
- Add salt to taste. Add fennel fronds, if using, and mix them in. Serve immediately or warm.